Let’s use Ken Nordine’s word jazz album ‘Colors’ to work out who’s going to win the 2020 IPL

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If there’s a simple and obvious way of predicting the 2020 IPL that for some reason hasn’t yet been done, it’s this… We’re going to look at all of the team kits; we’re going to establish the main colour of each one; and then we’re going to listen to what Ken Nordine said about those colours on his 1966 “word jazz” album, Colors, to see what that says about each team.

If you don’t know Colors, have a listen. It’s mellow jazz over which this guy Ken Nordine talks about various different colours, imbuing each of them with a whole personality and character.

It’s fairly mad. It was initially commissioned by a paint company, but people liked what he did, so Ken turned it into an album.

He did tracks about 34 different colours and made some interesting selection decisions. Fuchsia, chartreuse and puce all feature, for example, while “red” was apparently too weird and niche to make the cut.

You might not exactly comprehend how all of this relates to the IPL, but all will become at least moderately clear if you read on.

Take it from us, this ‘predicting the IPL based on Ken Nordine’s Colors’ idea is a brilliant idea.

Royal Challengers Bangalore – ?

This ‘predicting the IPL based on Ken Nordine’s Colors’ idea is a terrible idea.

The main colour in RCB’s 2020 kit is dark blue. Tell you what colour Ken Nordine doesn’t cover? Dark blue.

Ken covers about a million different versions of purple (and good luck trying to define where one hue starts and another one ends) but he doesn’t do dark blue.

He does plain old blue – but Mumbai Indians’ blue is a bluer blue than Royal Challengers’ blue, so we’re saving that for them.

This means we’re going to have to deem Royal Challengers’ shade of blue, ‘black’. (We think this is okay. They used to wear quite a lot of black and it really is a very, very dark blue.)

Adding an additional layer of confusion, Ken begins his comments on black by referencing ‘a hole in Calcutta’ – a city which does of course have an entirely different IPL team. Not helpful, Ken. Not helpful at all.

Ken finishes by repeating the word ‘black’ in the style of Johnny Nice.

Somewhere in between, he says that black is “closing your eyes tight” and we’re sure you’ll agree that “closing your eyes tight” is not a good way to play cricket and so probably Royal Challengers Bangalore won’t do very well this year.

Prediction: Royal Challengers will finish last. Or at least they would if their kit were black. Which it isn’t.

Chennai Super Kings – Yellow

Yellow is a strange tale about, “when light was deciding who should be in and who should be out of the spectrum.”

According to Ken, green didn’t want yellow in, “which caused yellow to weep yellow tears for several eternals, before there were years.”

It works out well in the end, but it’s actually blue who sorts everything out.

Prediction: Fourth

Delhi Capitals – Azure

Delhi’s is a pale blue, so we’ve gone with azure.

“Azure is bored just being blue,” which has apparently led it to, “act sort of silly, like it’s at its wit’s end.”

Azure tries to be different “because it can’t stand being same.”

Prediction: Bit of a wildcard. Could finish last. Might win the thing.

Kings XI Punjab – Magenta

We’ve got Kings XI down as magenta purely on the basis it seems the closest colour on offer to a generic red. Having now seen footage of the 2020 kit, cerise actually seems like a better fit but we’ve already allocated that to Rajasthan Royals, so what are we gonna do?

It’s good news for Kings XI though because magenta, “has her own gossip column and almost the freedom to say almost anything.”

With the inside scoop on what lavender, fuchsia and russet are up to, we’re presuming magenta has decent intel on the other colours too, which has got to be an advantage.

Prediction: Runners-up. Knowledge is power.

Kolkata Knight Riders – Maroon

Maroon is darker than burgundy, we think, and KKR’s kit is quite dark.

Quite hard to interpret this one because Ken basically just lists a load of words that rhyme with ‘maroon’.

One of the words is ‘spittoon’ which is a word that cropped up in conversation the other day. Specifically, we were wondering whether they used to call them ‘gozzoons’ in the North-West of England.

Prediction: Um, fifth?

Mumbai Indians – Blue

This starts pretty much exactly as you’d imagine if you’ve seen Cricket Fever.

“Time was when blue was the saddest. Sadder than that. Blue was the bluest blue can be blue. No one seemed to care, least of all blue.”

Sounds grim, doesn’t it. But wait!

“But then on a Thursday of a year – who can remember except blue – something sudden happened. Blue went as high as sky is high; flipped fathoms up; began to swing easy, sensibly, the way swings should be swung.”

That DEFINITELY sounds good.

Prediction: Winners

Rajasthan Royals – Cerise

“Sorry to say, but cerise – according to a most indelible source who lives near hue – is out of it. True. Cerise is definitely out. About as out as out, the opposite of in. Don’t ask me why. It doesn’t make any more sense to me than it does to you.”

Prediction: Banned for spot-fixing or some other kind of corruption.

Sunrisers Hyderabad – Amber

Bit of a gradation, but we figure it averages out at amber.

Ken gives us a great deal of talk about “pure amber neutrality” in a piece that’s basically entirely about traffic lights.

There’s a faint hint of respect at amber’s significance in his reference to it as “the referee between red and green” but the broader sense you get is that Ken doesn’t really think an awful lot of amber.

Prediction: Seventh


Colour is a spectrum and our labels for particular colours are vague and ill-defined and therefore interpretations of colour differ from person to person. The only thing we can be certain of is that someone will win the IPL and that it will definitely be because of the colour of their kit. (Unless the tournament is abandoned halfway through because of coronavirus.)

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  1. Wonder what this says about England’s pyjama colour changes over the years. Or New Zealand’s, is beige better than black?

    Weirdly there is some “proper science” on kit colour.

    Hill, R., Barton, R. (2005) “Red enhances human performance in contests.” Nature 435, 293 http://www.nature.com/articles/435293a

    “Red coloration is a sexually selected, testosterone-dependent signal of male quality in a variety of animals, and in some non-human species a male’s dominance can be experimentally increased by attaching artificial red stimuli. Here we show that a similar effect can influence the outcome of physical contests in humans — across a range of sports, we find that wearing red is consistently associated with a higher probability of winning. These results indicate not only that sexual selection may have influenced the evolution of human response to colours, but also that the colour of sportswear needs to be taken into account to ensure a level playing field in sport.”

    Dijkstra, P.D., Preenen, P.T.Y., van Essen, H. (2018) “Does Blue Uniform Color Enhance Winning Probability in Judo Contests?.” Frontiers in psychology vol. 9 45. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5797609/

    “The color of an athlete’s uniform may have an effect on psychological functioning and consequently bias the chances of winning contests in sport competition. Several studies reported a winning bias for judo athletes wearing a blue outfit relative to those wearing a white outfit. However, we argue there is no winning bias and that previous studies were confounded and based on small and specific data sets. We tested whether blue biases winning in judo using a very extensive judo data set (45,874 contests from all international judo tournaments between 2008 and 2014). In judo, the first called athlete for the fight used to wear the blue judogi but this was changed to the white judogi in 2011. This switch enabled us to compare the win bias before and after this change to isolate the effect of the color of the judogi. We found a significant win bias for the first called athlete, but this effect was not significantly related to the color of the judogi. The lack of a significant win effect of judogi color suggests that blue does not bias winning in judo, and that the blue-white pairing ensures an equal level of play. Our study shows the importance of thoroughly considering alternative explanations and using extensive datasets in color research in sports and psychology.”

    There are more. Lots, lots more …

    1. Its strange how despite red being the best colour to wear it has been a poor colour for teams to wear in the IPL. Three teams have had red as a primary or secondary colour and they are the only three teams that have been around from the beginning that have never managed to win the IPL or CLT20. This season will be the thirteenth IPL so there have been plenty of chances and one of the red teams is the Royal Challengers Bangalore who have featured some very strong teams and are captained by Virat Kohli so you can’t pin the failure on weaker teams completely either.

      1. I’m wondering about investing in a set of all-red clothes so I win more in life, but fortunately the IPL experience suggests doing so is unnecessary!

  2. Ged strikes me as the sort of chap who might well own a copy of “Colors” so I think I need to hear his opinion before betting heavily on the outcome.

    1. So sorry to disappoint, JB, but I don’t own a copy of Colors.

      But my old friend, Awesome Simo, who has been a protagonist in several of my match reports from Lord’s, is in the process of releasing an album named 12 Colours. He’s releasing one track a month and he’s just released the 11th one, a link to which follows:


      It’s rather a good track – all of Awesome Simo’s are. I find it hard to tell which colour applies to which track in 12 Colours. I believe that is a metaphor for not being able to work out which team will achieve what in the IPL.

      Glad to help with both your music education and also your IPL betting plans.

  3. The Delhi Capitals? What happened to the Delhi Daredevils?

    Teams shouldn’t be allowed to just change their name. You wouldn’t get this sort of thing in England. It would be like Warwickshire changing their name to the Birmingham…oh never mind.

      1. I sometimes think back to the launch of the T20 Cup, all ‘Lions’, ‘Sharks’, ‘Outlaws’ and ‘Steelbacks’. Kent refused to give themselves a nickname. They became known as ‘The Kent Not Participatings’.

  4. I did not know ‘deep to vivid reddish pink’ was called Cerise.

    I did not realize there was a need to describe something as being ‘deep to vivid reddish pink’ often enough that someone came up with a word for it.

  5. CSK and MS Dhoni are the same thing because without MS Dhoni the brand of CSK is nothing. And MS Dhoni is meant to be ‘ice cool’ and ice is like light blue. So I think CSK should get an upgrade from 4th.

  6. Cherry
    Is the first
    And the last
    And the centre
    And the farthest reaches
    And the part
    And the whole
    In stripes
    With white
    It is form
    And function
    And science
    Never trailing
    Always strong
    Never failing
    Always there
    Always here
    Not like
    Which is just a scabby colour for people from St Helens with no imagination

  7. Everytime, I watch Australia or CSK play, I am embarassed that I follow a sport where the team that wears yellow is the top side

    1. Excellent use of the word “yellow” there for Australia’s colours. Always vital to use that word. Go the Green & Yellows.

    1. Other ideas for silverware:

      The Gerard Brophy Trophy
      The Lara-Bopara Tiara
      The Graham Napier Rapier
      The Stuart Broad Sword
      The Neil Mallender Calendar
      The Cook-Salt-Pepper-Mustard-Onions Frying Pan
      The Makhaya Commu-Ntini Shield

      Particularly ashamed of that last one.

      1. The Stuart Broad Sword should be given each year to the player with the most genuins for comedy in cricket.
        It can’t start until Broad retires because otherwise it wouldn’t be a level playing field for other players.

      2. The Makhaya Commu-Ntini Shield should sit atop the WG Grace Base.

        There should be an award for low first innings scores in Ashes contests: The Chef-Pup Cup.

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